Today

May 31, 2014

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Just a quick drop in to let you know I'm over on Liesl Made today for a 3-Question interview. Hurray, hurray!

The Daily Backyard Chicken

May 30, 2014

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Oh chickens.

There are times when the hens get loud for no apparent reason, or go broody at a particularly inconvenient time, or worry us with some mysterious health issue, but after a year of housing hens and dealing with little problems here and there (and sometimes bigger problems), I can only say that I really enjoy having chickens. Especially now that the weather is warm, and we're spending more and more of our time outside with them.

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As it is with our house, the coop is never finished. There is always a long list of improvements to be made, largely influenced by the behavior of the chickens themselves. Our most recent addition comes from Starbuck's habit of laying eggs on the ground. We put up with this strange behavior for several months, but we knew we'd eventually have to deal with it one way or another. Finally, I came across an article from one of my favorite chicken-resources, HenCam, about potential issues with ground layers, and we decided it was time to take action.

Starbuck has never been a nestbox layer. She tried a few times in the very beginning, but it seemed to us that our 12-inch by 12-inch nestboxes in the hen house were a little too small for her, so she eventually found a spot in the coop behind the water dispenser, and then another spot under our deck, and then, finally, the corner of the coop you see pictured above.

To remedy this problem, we built a single nest box for the inside of the run near her favorite laying corner. This box measures a roomy 17 inches cubed, and sits a good six or seven inches off the ground.

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As you can see, the new box appeals to some of the other chickens, too, though they continue to lay in the hen house boxes as usual. As for Starbuck, she's already laying in her new box. Success!

Weekend Snapshots

May 28, 2014

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Memorial Day weekend was a four day affair for me - sort of like a mini vacation. I would say it's hard to get back into the routine of things except I feel the urgency of making up for lost time, so everything is balancing out one way or another. Still, it feels much more like a Tuesday than mid-week already.

We kicked things off over the weekend with a First Aid Kit concert Thursday evening at the Wonder Ballroom. Those girls are timeless, magical performers. I especially enjoyed the songs they played from their upcoming album, Stay Gold. In particular, their song Ceder Lane, which had both Matt and I transfixed by the end.

Aside from that, we had several chats with friends about upcoming outdoor adventures. Hiking, camping, beach trips... I'm looking forward to this summer, which, in some ways, feels like it has already begun. Still, I'm not ready to give up on my love affair with spring just yet.

Weekend Snapshots

May 19, 2014

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I thought for the longest time that my stay with Blogger would be temporary. I assumed I'd eventually outgrow it and move on to Wordpress, but now I think I'm here to stay. It's just an easy blogging platform to work with, and I'm all about keeping things as simple as possible right now.

That said, I've made a few changes to the place I should probably mention: First, I bought a domain. Since www.awoodennest.com was available, I figured I'd snatch it up before someone else did. Second, I've installed Disqus commenting. The old comment system wasn't working for me because I couldn't reply directly to comments. Blogger supposedly offers threaded comments if you use the embedded option, but it wasn't working for me.* Probably because I've messed with the code too much.

Third, I've been playing with my post title placement and other appearance details here and there. I may even get a new logo soon after asking one of my amazingly talented designer friends to help me out. Through blogging and the wonders of the internet, I've learned there are a lot of things I can do myself. I've also learned there are some things I really can't do - or shouldn't - because I don't have the time or skill. Design work of any kind is definitely something that falls under that category.

I was finally able to fix my issue with blogger comments with the help of this guide. I had to replace all the threaded code to get it to work, but it was worth it!

Lavender-Honey Simple Syrup

May 16, 2014

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I think there are some flavors you have to come to terms with on your own. Most people I know are like that with coffee, wine, beer, black licorice… You witness other people enjoying these things, and you listen to them deliberate over such things as the notes of citrus or the subtle hints of pine, but when you attempt to experience such pleasures yourself, you find the taste unpleasant and abrasive. At first, anyway.

People don't usually call it quits after the first try, though. They seem to come back to it again and again until something finally clicks. For me, this moment usually comes from a dish that's well prepared, but I think a lot of it also has to do with the setting I'm in and the company I'm surrounded by.

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It may seem a little strange that we might force ourselves to acquire a taste for something when we clearly don’t take to right away, but part of the joy in eating and drinking is the opportunity to give your taste buds a new experience. And when so many of us associate tastes and smells with memory and emotion, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

I’m bringing all this up because, for me, lavender was always one of those smells - those flavors - that I just didn’t get. I associated it more with bath and body products, but I was never fond of the smell. Instead of feeling soothed and relaxed, the scent would overwhelm me and trigger headaches. I realize now that I was probably smelling artificial scents.

Years later, I’m finally coming around to lavender in small doses. I really enjoy the smell in my shower when it’s subtle, and I even enjoy the flavor, too. Especially with honey, like in this lavender-honey simple syrup recipe. You can pour some in your lemonade, London Fog, or a tall glass of unflavored soda water. It's delicious.

Lavender-Honey Simple Syrup
Recipe adapted from LolaZabeth.com.

1 cup honey
1 cup water
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons dried or fresh organic lavender flowers

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Add all the ingredients to a saucepan, and place on the stove over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool for five minutes. Strain syrup into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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This stuff also makes really great wedding favors. Enjoy.

Unfinished Business

May 14, 2014

Whenever I walk past that thing I was knitting last winter, or that pile of stuff in my office, I avert my eyes. I just keep on walking. I can't let myself think about it, or listen to it's pathetic "Finish me! Finish me!" cries, or I'll freeze from my sheer inability to accomplish anything. It's a melodramatic scene between neglectful crafter and work-in-progress. A sad, sad affair.

Thing is, unfinished projects make me c r a z y. Really. So I'm airing my dirty laundry to the world, and showing you my list of things that need finishing ASAP. What can I say? I need the accountability:

This sweater:
Lace Striped Sweater
I finished knitting this back in 2012 (I think?), and I like it, but the color is wrong for me, so I bought some dye last winter to see if I could rekindle the fire between us. Now I just need to actually dye and re-block it.

These socks:
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This project is actually the least severe of my offenses. Socks are something I plan to have on the needles at all times, and to carry with me for dull moments in the waiting room, or at the bus stop. It's just that I haven't been carrying these around lately, so I haven't been making any progress.

This cardigan:
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This one hurts my soul, especially now that the weather is warming up and I won't be able to wear it much until next fall. Still, I'm so excited to finish this project. I love the pattern, the yarn, and I'm already on the second sleeve! It really just needs a few nights worth of attention to finish.

This quilt:
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Sometimes, when tackling a project for the first time, I get hung up on the unknown, and that's what happened with this quilt. I'm ready for the next step... the batting, the backing, and the edging. I just need to do some research to figure out how.

This soon-to-be bookshelf:
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I don't think I've mentioned this project here yet, but Matt and I went and bought some wooden crates to make a bookshelf in the office last month, and it's almost ready. I've stained the wood, and added a single coat of polyurethane, but it could do with another coat. If I can get my act together, this bookshelf could go up sometime next weekend.

And finally: My giant pile of to-be-mended clothing. (not pictured)

Weekend Snapshots

May 12, 2014

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I always think of myself as a fall season kind of person, but spring has been such a welcome relief this year that my bias is shifting more and more in its favor. There's something rejuvenating about the bursts of heavy rain, thunder & lightning, hail storms and peeks of sunshine (all in the span of a single afternoon). It forces me to refocus my priorities.

Things have been a little chaotic these past few months. I think it's time to declutter my life and carve a new routine.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

May 9, 2014

cauliflower pizza

When I first heard about cauliflower pizza crust, I thought it was too crazy to even try. I thought it would be similar to cucumber slice pizza bites, and I'm just not into that kinda thing. When I'm in the mood for hot, chewy food, cold and crunchy alternatives just won't satisfy.

But then I saw Chef John's video for cauliflower pizza crust and I changed my mind. My version didn't turn out as crusty as a wheaty, glutenous woodfire pizza would, of course, but as far as gluten-free pizzas options go, this stuff ain't bad. Especially if you haven't had a 'real' pizza in awhile.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
2 ounces chèvre
1 large egg

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cauliflower rice Cauliflower Pizza Crust Ingredients

Rinse the cauliflower under cool water, and remove the florets from the core. Place florets in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse, scraping down the bowl when necessary, until the cauliflower is well processed and resembles a rice-like consistency.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the cauliflower into a saute pan, and place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the salt, thyme and oregano over the cauliflower, and stir until well combined. Allow the mixture to continue heating for five to six minutes to remove the raw flavor. Remove pan from heat, and let cool for fifteen minutes. Taste, and add more salt/seasonings as needed.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Spread a clean dish towel on the counter, and pour the cooled cauliflower mixture into the center of the towel. Grabbing the corners, enclose the cauliflower with the dish towel, and bring to the sink. Squeeze out as much water as you can (there will be a lot of water).

Once the cauliflower has been drained, open the towel and place the remaining cauliflower pulp into a large bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese, the chèvre, and the egg, and stir together until mixture is completely combined.

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Line a flat cookie sheet with a silpat mat (or parchment), and press the "dough" into a pizza shape that's at least a quarter of an inch thick throughout. Once you've got the shape formed, place in a preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is a nice, golden brown.

Remove crust from oven, and let cool for five minutes. Flip the crust over so the moist side is facing up, and raise oven temperature to 450°. Let oven preheat while you prepare your toppings.

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Add your pizza toppings like you would a normal pizza, and place in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Once done, remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack for five minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Chef John at Foodwishes. Definitely check out his video!

April Faves, Ramblings, and the Monthly Egg Count

May 6, 2014

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The weather was warm and summery last week, teetering on the high end of 80°F. We're back into the 60's now, with cloudy skies and plenty of rain in the forecast, but I managed to squeeze in some gardening while it was still sunny.

I finally settled on a place to plant my raspberry and blueberry bushes this year. I chose a spot in the front yard near the fence where there's lots of sun. I wouldn't be surprised if the birds around here steal the berries before we can pick them, but hopefully there's enough for all of us.

I also planted some tomatoes, herbs, and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. Until recently, I wasn't much interested in growing anything but vegetables, but I've grown very fond of flowers in spring and summer, so I'm playing around with dahlias, pansies, poppies, sunflowers... lots of things I've never tried growing before. Cross your fingers for me that some of my flowers stay alive?

April Faves:

-Flickr's new mobile update. Flickr now has the functionality of Instagram on mobile devices without the constraints of the square image! 'Bout time, Flickr.

-Evernote. I know I'm late to this party, but I love this app. If you're an avid list maker and collector of inspiration, this is a brilliant way to keep your lists, ideas, images, and inspiration organized.

-The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. I had the pleasure of seeing her speak two months ago for her new book Ripper (which I read and didn't like), and she was brilliant, funny, and inspiring. After seeing her live, I decided I wanted to read through some of her most loved novels, so a friend of mine lent me the English translation of The House of the Spirits, and I thought it was great.

-Hannibal. This is the only show on television that my husband and I make time to watch every week together (unless the Blazers game runs overtime, harumph). He even went and bought an antenna so we could watch it in hi-def. It's a bloody, witty, beautiful series, and I really hope they make a third season. Check it out if you like that sort of thing. ;-)

April Eggs!
Seven of Nine: 21
Milly: 27
Starbuck: 20
Amy: 27

Total: 95 eggs!

There would've been more, but Starbuck and Milly went broody in the last two weeks of the month. Still, 95 eggs ain't bad.